On World Suicide Prevention Day, CHR warns of brewing mental health pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — Coinciding with the marking of World Suicide Prevention Day, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) warned on Thursday that a mental health pandemic is “brewing” as the government is busy finding ways to beat the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“As the government continues to prevent and treat the spread of COVID-19, a mental health pandemic is brewing,” CHR spokeswoman Jacqueline De Guia said in a statement.
“This problem compounded by an increasing number of companies shifting towards work from home arrangements and the online delivery of classes,” she added. “Certain individuals may feel overwhelmed unable to find balance or routine in their life.”
De Guia cited that the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) has recorded an increase in suicide-related calls of 33 monthly calls from January to March 2020, to 66 in April, 80 in May, 112 in June, and 115 in July.
Apart from this, she also cited a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released in July where it showed 84 percent of Filipinos were stressed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of the rise in suicide calls, as well as the results of the SWS survey, the CHR official then pointed out the that the “overwhelming” reasons for the increase in suicide cases are fears of getting sick, economic uncertainty and prolonged social isolation are all taking its toll on mental health.
“Each individual life lost to suicide is a tragic incident that affects the lives of families and communities,” De Guia said. “It represents a lost chance to help an individual whom for so long has been under great difficulty against an oftentimes unforeseen problem.”
And because of the brewing mental health pandemic, De Guia said: “There is a case to be made for government policies and social institutions working closely with civil society to help bring greater awareness to the importance of mental health.”
“Recognition of the importance of mental health as a significant factor towards overall individual health is the first step towards ensuring parity of attention is given to both physical and mental health,” she said.
The CHR then noted and lauded the government’s steps in ensuring everyone’s mental health, such as the passage of Republic Act 11036 or the Mental Health Law.
Also equally commendable, the CHR added, are the efforts of medical frontliners, including psychiatrists and counselors “who work tirelessly to bring comfort to those who suffer,” as well as the Department of Education’s move to limit screen time for students as they attend online distance learning to “prevent stress and burnout.”
The CHR official then called upon the public “to go beyond offering words of consolation” in a bid to promote mental health.
“As we weather this pandemic, let us learn to carry each other’s burdens,” she said.
“If we cannot give consolation, the best we can do is to be there for those who need help. This World Suicide Prevention Day let us offer each other our time, presence and together we shall carry each other’s burden,” she added.
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